Roland TD-9, Rock Band 3 and Pro MIDI Adapter setup

· by Steve · Read in about 4 min · (714 Words)

A little while ago I blogged about setting up a MIDI interface for a Roland TD-9 (KX in my case - I love my mesh heads :)) so it could be used to drive Rock Band. I’ve had that setup for almost 18 months now and it’s served me well, but the main problem with it is that the older Rock Bands only recognised 5 different triggers, with many doubled-up - so Yellow was both closed high-hat and high tom, green was floor tom and crash, and blue was over-used as mid tom, ride cymbal and open high-hat. I compensated for this by trying to play the songs properly anyway, by listening to the track and figuring it out for myself, or by getting sheet music for the tracks in question, which worked quite well.

In Rock Band 3 however, they introduced Pro Drums mode, which separately charts the cymbals and toms, leaving the only doubled-up trigger on blue, which still serves as open high-hat and ride cymbal. Unfortunately, my MIDI interface didn’t comply with Pro Drums mode and the new official Pro MIDI Adapter was stupidly hard to get a hold of in the UK - luckily I finally managed to get hold of one this week via Gameshark.

The good news is that the new MIDI interface almost works out of the box; they clearly decided to pre-configure it to many of the common MIDI setups of electronic drumkits, so you can actually start playing straight away (so long as you don’t use the customised setup I posted previously, in which case you’ll need to reset most of it). There are only a few small tweaks you need to make from the stock MIDI configuration on a TD-9:

  1. Dual / triple triggers don’t generally work out of the box. If your kit (like mine) has dual or triple-triggering snares, toms and cymbals, you’ll need to configure the alternate triggers to be the same MIDI note (these are listed in the manual).
You do this on the TD-9 from the home screen by pressing FUNC (F2) > MIDI (F3), then hitting the pad / cymbal in question in the appropriate place (head, rim, bow, bell etc), then using the adjustment dial to set the MIDI note to the correct value in the table.
  1. Open / closed high-hat notes aren’t quite right. Most songs are charted so that an open high-hat is blue cymbal, but out of the box the high-hat is configured to trigger yellow cymbal in all cases, so you need to change the binding through FUNC (F2) > MIDI (F3) as above. First, hit the HH with the pedal depressed and set this to 22 (again for dual triggers, make sure you repeat this for the bow / rim), then do it again with the pedal released and set the note to 51.
  2. HH Pedal setting - you only need to mess with this if you want the HH to sound different in Freestyle mode when it’s open/closed. The blue/yellow bindings in the previous point are what you need to match the song charts, but in Freestyle mode you can set the pedal to send a MIDI control signal when it changes state so that it sounds different when you play. To do this, go into Setup > MIDI (F2) > CTRL (F2) and set Pedal CC to FOOT (4).
  3. Rock Band 3 config - to use all this you need to tell RB3 to use it, so pull up your options via Start > Options and enable all the cymbals and the secondary pedal option (as mentioned above, this only affects Freestyle, the yellow/ blue cymbal bindings control open/closed HH in songs)

That’s it! It’s a bit less complicated than my original instructions with the non-official MIDI interface, but it won’t be quite right unless you perform those steps too. I hope that saves someone a bit of time, the HH situation certainly confused me at first.

I’m pleased that I can already play Pro Drums pretty well, because I’ve been teaching myself to play the tracks correctly anyway over the last year and a bit, even though the non-Pro charting didn’t force me to. It’s really nice to have confirmation on the charting though! Lots of fun ahead. 😀